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The Top 10 extinct boys’ names

Male names not seen in official records since the turn of the century

John Rentoul
Friday 07 October 2022 14:00 BST
Related: Top five boys and girls’ baby names from 2016
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This is a companion list to last week’s extinct girls’ names. It does not include Algernon, the name I started with, which comes from Norman French als gernons, “with whiskers”, apparently. It is still just current – there were three boys given the name in 2016.

As last week, the definition of extinct is a name that doesn’t appear in the Office for National Statistics dataset of babies’ first names in England and Wales since 2000, or in the Scottish records for 2020 and 2021. The ONS dataset omits names that are recorded only once or twice in a year, on grounds of confidentiality – so “extinct” means no more than two in any year since the turn of the century.

1. Beveridge. Jane Merrick’s great-grandfather, born in Kirkcaldy.

2. Branwell. As in Branwell Bronte, nominated by John Peters.

3. Eustace. From Peter Eckersley. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” The opening line of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by CS Lewis. Clarence, on the other hand, is not quite extinct (see below).

4. Evelyn. Nominated by Paul Edwards. Extinct for boys. Never mind Waugh, it is the 21st most popular name for girls: 1,729 in 2021.

5. Garfield. As in Garfield Todd, prime minister of Rhodesia, 1953-58. Nominated by John Peters.

6. Hilary. As in Hilary Benn, it is extinct as a boy’s name and rare for girls (four Hilarys in 2017 and four Hillarys in 2018).

7. Melville. Sarah Orme’s grandfather.

8. Meredith. Meredith Titterington was a male Labour MP, 1945-1949; the name was last recorded for boys in 1998, although it is still popular for girls – there were 79 in 2021.

9. Squire. Andrew Woodcock’s grandfather; also one of the middle names of Gervais Squire Chittick Rentoul, founding chair of the 1922 Committee and a second cousin twice removed of mine.

10. Torquil. The variant spelling Torcuil, as in Torcuil Crichton, the former Westminster editor of the Daily Record and fellow member of the parliamentary lobby, is also defunct.

I haven’t counted Adolf, which is extinct, on the grounds that I don’t think it was ever a British name. Also extinct, although less well known, is Gustavus, GG Gill’s grandfather. Septimus, the name of Stuart Dodgson’s great-grandfather, has disappeared for an obvious reason: it was once a common name for the seventh child.

Endangered: Apart from Algernon, last recorded in 2016, there is Godfrey 2018; Hannibal (nominated by Atticus Bakelite) 2018; Pelham 2009; Peregrine 2020; Randolph (spotted by Adam Behr) 2008; and Ulysses 2018.

Not quite extinct (these are the numbers recorded in 2021): Albion (Nigel Morris’s grandfather) 6; Aldous 3; Aloysius 5; Ambrose (Robert Hutton’s grandfather) 25; Bartholomew 12; Bertram 17; Bertrand 4; Cedric (thanks to Cole Davis) 16; Clarence 7; Cuthbert 3; Cyril 4; Ebenezer 14; Enoch (thanks to the Bible) 19; Gary 19; Gideon 32; Hilton (Indolent Knave’s grandfather) 6; Horace (from Rob Jackson) 3; Inigo 8; Nigel (nominated by Dom B Morison) 8; Phineas 12; Quentin 23; and Silas 47.

Not extinct at all, although you might expect them to be: Fletcher (there were 135 in 2021); Franklin 184 (and Franklyn 10); and Reginald 214.

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There is always one, and this week it was John Noakes, who nominated John (359 in 2021, 154th most popular).

As luck would have it, the ONS published last year’s data on Thursday, which means my girls’ Top 10 is based on information up to 2020, whereas the boys’ goes up to 2021.

Next week: People who broke the thing they were in charge of for the greater good, starting with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Coming soon: Evil computers.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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